The Emergence Of Western Swing

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One of the most important events in country music was the emergence of western swing. This musical repertoire is associated with some of the key names and sounds of country music today. Western swing helped country music gain an entirely new audience, and it borrowed from other musical genres and new sounds to create its popularity.

Western swing developed in Texas in the early 1930's as an alternative; some might say a rebellion, to the commercial country music that was being produced at that point in time. Western swing was considered a musical hybrid, combining many genres of music including country and jazz. It was played by bands that just wanted to make good music, while not worrying about how their music would be categorized. These bands began performing in dance halls and bars across Texas, seeking fans. As it gained popularity, it was played more on the radio and was eventually infused into country music's sound.

Bob Wills and Milton Brown (their band was known as Wills' Fiddle Band) were among the personalities that pioneered the western swing sound. In 1932, the Fort Worth Doughboys were formed and "became one of the important parent groups of western swing"� (Malone, 160). They changed their name to the Light Crust Doughboys in 1933, and they had their own radio show on WBAP. Another big name was Spade Cooley, who was signed by well-known producer Art Satherly in 1943. Cooley used elaborate fiddling and an orchestra sound in such hits as "Shame on You"� to promote western swing. In 1946, Cooley became known as the "King of Western Swing."� This was the first use of the term "western swing"� to describe the kind of music that was being created (Malone, 201).

The sound of western swing is characterized by a prominent...